This study investigated the poor performance of students in Chemistry. The widespread poor performance and the negative attitudes towards chemistry of secondary school students have been largely ascribed to teaching problems. Chemistry being the branch of science which studies the nature and properties of substances which make up the environment, with the changes they undergo, is a very important course of study which does not only stand as a scientific study but also a very essential for the development of any nation which must be productive and be able to stand independently in the production of its inhabitants’ chemical consumables. However, as important as this course is, the students who are expected to be the carriers of the necessary skills needed for a productive application have been performing so poor persistently over some years ago. To curb this, this research work focused on investigating the factors responsible for this persistent poor performance at the Senior Secondary School level, using Oba Akoko North and South Local Government Areas of Ondo State, Nigeria, as study areas. Eight (8) Secondary Schools were randomly selected from the two Local Government Areas, where twenty-five students were randomly selected from six of the schools, sixteen and thirty from the other two schools respectively, making a total of one hundred and ninety six (196) students from SSS 1 to 3. One teacher out of the total Chemistry teachers present in each school was also selected, making a total of 8 teachers in all. Many related theses were reviewed to have a foresight of what the likely factors responsible for this effect could be, and the factors found out were out-listed under two broad headings called: The School-based Factors (7) and The Extrinsic Factors (5), making a total of twelve (12) factors in all. The method of data collection employed in this thesis is the teachers’ and students’ questionnaires. The former has a total of thirty- three (33), while the latter has a total of twenty-five (25) structured items respectively. Chi-square and Correlation Coefficient were used in the analysis of the data collected. From the examinations conducted, sixteen (16) hypotheses were formulated to check the validity of the identified factors, and the following factors were found to be affecting the
performance of students negatively: poor school background characteristics of students, wrong perception of students about chemistry, wrong attitudes of students toward chemistry, poor learning environment & facilities, poor/inadequate assessment of students and improper achievement test, inadequate evaluation, poor method of teaching on the part of teachers, poor English language comprehension ability and mathematical competence, the type of primary school attended, performance in JSSCE Basic/Integrated Science, and old age. Meanwhile, the following factors were speculated in the literatures reviewed, but were found to have no effect on students’ performance: gender difference, curriculum content, syllabus and workload of teachers, and students’ rudimentary understanding of chemistry. Also, parental background of students was found to have a very weak effect on the performance of students in chemistry. After all, reliable recommendations were made for the concerned bodies and individuals, including ministry of education, the school management/administration, chemistry teachers, parents, and other stakeholders. Recommendations were also made for further studies, with all of these focused on making positive changes to the performance of students in Chemistry right from the foundational education level, and to effect a transformation of the education sector of the country, Nigeria, at large.
1.1 Background of the Study
Chemistry has been a very important science subject whose role in the development of a nation like Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. However, as important and significant as this subject is among its other likes of science subjects including Physics, Mathematics and Biology in the senior secondary school level of the nation, students have persistently, like in the aforementioned courses or subjects above, continued to perform poorly, considering the evaluations carried out by both internal and external examination bodies like WAEC and NECO.
“There has been wild cry each year when WAEC or NECO releases their annual results as a result of students poor performance, especially in Science subjects” [(Salami, Mohammed, & Ogunlade; (2012) in Ojukwu, M.O. (2016)]. “Candidates’ performance at the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by WAEC and NECO has consistently remained poor, with chemistry having one of the worst and poorest results over the years” (Ibe & Madusnum; 2001 in Ojukwu, M.O; 2016)
Meanwhile, the poor performance of students in any course of study, be it Sciences, Social Sciences, or even Commercial studies would lead to a poor development of the country since they make up the content (major) of the education sector of the country, which indeed is the bedrock of the nation’s development, both economically, technologically, politically and generally in the aspect of sciences.
Aside the fact that the nation as a whole is being negatively affected when there is poor performance of students with their output in the society, it haphazardly embitters individual student and their guardians/parents badly because education is believed and known to be the major medium through which individuals adapt to a new environment.